10 May 2014 – OHRLLS Retreat Agrees on Key Challenges, Priorities for LLDCs

Participants at the Retreat of Ambassadors in preparation for the Second UN Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) called for additional action to fully address the special needs and problems of LLDCs, despite considerable progress in implementing the Almaty Programme of Action (APoA). The retreat discussed challenges facing LLDCs and future priorities for action, and worked toward agreement on a draft outcome document for the Second UN Conference on LLDCs (LLDC2).

The UN Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS) organized the Retreat of Ambassadors, which took place in Glen Cove, New York, US, from 9-10 May 2014.

In opening remarks, Gyan Chandra Acharya, High Representative, OHRLLS, said the APoA was designed as a sectoral programme with a strong emphasis on infrastructure and transit, and its effectiveness was limited by failure to address “growth and trade-determining factors,” including value addition, economic diversification, industrialization, job creation and resilience-building measures to deal with external shocks and climate change challenges.

Participants identified key challenges that continue to impede LLDCs’ ability to effectively engage in international trade, including inadequate transit transport infrastructure and high trade costs. They noted that LLDCs’ high dependence on natural resource-based commodities for exports, including bulky primary agricultural commodities, oils and minerals, makes them highly vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations and limits their productive capacities and value chain gradation.

New and emerging challenges, particularly the negative impacts of climate change, desertification and environmental degradation, are increasing the burden on LLDCs’ economies, according to participants. They stressed that LLDCs cannot afford to tackle these challenges alone and recommended increasing official development assistance (ODA) and other international assistance to achieve sustainable development in LLDCs.

Participants agreed on key priorities for the next programme of action for LLDCs, including: establishing efficient transit systems through developing necessary physical and soft infrastructure; supporting LLDCs and transit countries to ratify and implement agreements and conventions to facilitate transit; enhancing LLDCs’ productive capacities; building LLDCs’ resilience to internal and external shocks, including climate change, desertification and economic and financial shocks; supporting structural transformation, value addition and diversification; supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and regional integration.

Participants called for the post-2015 development agenda to take into account LLDCs’ special needs. They expressed hope that the outcome document from the Second LLDCs Conference will result in a strengthened, results-oriented partnership framework to eradicate poverty and ensure a better future for people living in LLDCs.

The Conference is scheduled to take place on 3-5 November 2014, in Vienna.

Source: IISD